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Summer Health and Safety

Think Vaping Is Harmless for Your Teenager? Research Shows That’s Not True

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about e-cigarettes and other “vaping” devices, especially among youths. The truth is, no tobacco product is safe and none of them should be used by teens.

Still, we know the number of young people using these products has surged in recent years.  One main reason may be that e-cigarettes can be easy to hide because many are small enough to fit in a pocket and some emit very low amounts of aerosol, or vapor, making them even harder to detect. Some teens report vaping in school bathrooms and even in the classroom.

Help dispel the myths you hear from the teens in your life by knowing and sharing these facts:

Myth: E-cigarettes won’t harm me because they just produce water vapor

E-cigarettes actually produce an aerosol that contains harmful chemicals. Vaping exposes users’ lungs to formaldehyde, acrolein, and other dangerous chemicals, as well as metals like nickel, lead, and tin. Most also contain the addictive drug nicotine, including some that claim to be nicotine-free.

Myth: Nicotine in e-cigarettes isn’t that bad for me and I won’t get addicted because I don’t have an addictive personality.

Some e-cigarettes contain as much nicotine in one pod as a pack of 20 traditional cigarettes. Nicotine is highly addictive and teen brains are even more susceptible to nicotine addiction than adults because they are still developing. Using nicotine can also interfere with the normal development of parts of the brain that control mood, attention, and impulse control.  

Myth: E-cigarettes will keep me from smoking cigarettes, which is a good thing, right?

Actually, several scientific studies show that teens who vape are more likely to try smoking cigarettes in the future.

Myth: The flavor in my e-cigarette must be safe because the same flavor is in the food I eat.  

Many of the flavors in e-cigarettes are made from chemicals. Even if those chemicals have been found to be safe to eat in food, they may not be safe to inhale because they can harm your lungs.

By knowing and sharing the facts about vaping with the teens in your life, you — as a coach, teacher, or parent — can help set the record straight.

Center for Tobacco Products, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), [email protected]

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